Saturday, July 28, 2007

"Without Prejudice" Trans Pacific

India: Unusual baby draws crowds, worshipped as divine

From correspondents in India, 11:32 AM IST

Hundreds are flocking to a house in Orissa's Balasore district to glimpse and even worship a baby born with both male and female genitalia, being described as an incarnation of Hindu gods Shiva and Parvati.

The baby, now five-and-a-half months old, was born to Baijayanti Singh in Ayodhya Nagar Patana village in Balasore district, around 200 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.

'When the child was born (Feb 11) we thought it is a boy. But two days later we found that it had both male and female sex organs,' she said.

'We feel the baby is part of both Shiva and Parvati as it was born just four days before Maha Shivratri,' added Guru Gobinda Singh, the child's father.

Baijayanti had a normal delivery and the baby is healthy.

Describing the phenomenon, senior gynaecologist S.N. Sahu told IANS: 'It is called an intersex (congenital anomaly of the reproductive and sexual system) baby and such incidents may happen.'

Though such a condition does not lead to ill health or cause physical pain, it is a serious health issue that needs to be treated medically, he said.

'Surgically correcting the appearance of intersex genitals will not change the underlying medical needs,' Sahu said. . . .

IRS challenged in court about medical deduction for gender reassignment surgery

On Tuesday, July 24, in Boston, Rhiannon O'Donnabhain, a 63-year-old transsexual woman, testified in U.S. Tax Court, where she has challenged the Internal Revenue Service for not allowing $25,000 worth of out-of-pocket expenses for a medical deduction that she claimed on her 2001 federal income taxes.

O'Donnabhain in fact received a $5,000 refund check, but now the IRS wants it back, saying her gender reassignment surgery and other procedures she underwent, transitioning from male to female, are "cosmetic" and not "meaningful treatment" for her diagnosis with gender identity disorder, or GID. O'Donnabhain said that she could have paid back her IRS refund but decided to sue the government as a matter of principle.

Last week O'Donnabhain told the Associated Press, "This goes way beyond money," she said, adding, "If I were to give the money back, it would be saying it's okay for you to do this to me." But she said, "It's not okay for them to do this to me or anyone like me.

For its part, the IRS does not consider the various treatments O'Donnabhain received to be "medical care" insofar as her psychotherapy, breast enhancements, "feminizing" facial treatments, and gender reassignment surgery (GRS), among others - are all "cosmetic."

The IRS tax code states: "'medical care' does not include cosmetic surgery or other similar procedures, unless the surgery or procedure is necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or disfiguring disease."

The U.S. federal tax code also defines the term "cosmetic surgery" to mean "any procedure which is directed at improving the patient's appearance and does not meaningfully promote the proper function of the body or prevent or treat illness or disease."

In other words, the government argues that GID is not an "illness" or "disease" for tax purposes, a lawyer for the IRS said to Judge Joseph Gale. And even if it were an illness, treating GID does not constitute "medical" care as it is not "meaningful treatment" in the promotion of proper body function.

For more than an hour, Jennifer Levi, an attorney with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) questioned O'Donnabhain, with Mary Hamilton, of the IRS cross-examining her.

For years, O'Donnabhain testified, she experienced life in anguish, feeling as if she was a woman trapped in a man's body. As early as eight or nine years old, O'Donnabhain said, she had a sense of "feeling different." It was then, O'Donnabhain said, she began to caress women's undergarments to comfort her.

While she described her marriage as "good," O'Donnabhain said inner conflict created alienation from her true self, as well as emotional and interpersonal distance from her wife and family, interfering with familial intimacy and communication and marital sexual relations.

"I wanted my old body to go away," she said. "I wasn't supposed to be this way. I was supposed to be female. I just wanted the pain to go away."

Her suffering - "despair," "loneliness," and "shame" - became unbearable, she said, recounting one time while standing in the kitchen, holding on tight to a carving knife, contemplated cutting off her penis.

"I wanted to cut it off," her "male part," she said, "I was chicken. I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel." . . .

Fat chance

By Arnold Wayne Jones Staff Writer
Jul 26, 2007, 17:18


Rodney (Ash Christian) is trapped: Trapped in a narrow-minded small town; trapped as a gay boy in a religious family; trapped in a fat girl’s body. Which is not to say he’s transsexual — he just doesn’t fit in to society, the way any obese kid doesn’t. To Rodney, anyone different, whatever his gender, is a fat girl.

“Fat Girls” has the peculiar energy of a debut feature from a filmmaker who hasn’t developed tics and idiosyncrasies that become crutches. Its lack of polish often helps it seem more immediate, more heartfelt.

Films about the difficulty in fitting in certainly aren’t rare, nor are gay coming-of-age comedies, but “Fat Girls” benefits from its sweetness and singular, twangy Texas charm. As with “Hairspray,” it assumes that the pudgy kid deserves to be happy, to go to the prom with the local dreamboat and have a good time. It draws its strength not from a revenge fantasy against the cool kids, but from a live-and-let live approach that doesn’t consider them relevant at all. The title might sound cruel, but “Fat Girls” is about as gentle as movies get.

Grade: B+

— A.W.J.

“Fat Girls” plays as part of the Dallas Video Festival at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Aug. 5 at 5:30 p.m.